Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Lilly Ascencio rises up to put down a kill during Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over the Sanger Apaches.
With a 3-0 home win against Sanger, the Madera Coyotes girls volleyball team took a step closer to a second consecutive undefeated season in the County/Metro Athletic Conference.
The Sanger Apaches (11-22, 3-4) were hanging tough early in the match Tuesday in Joe Flores Gym, jumping out to a 6-3 lead in the first set and keeping the Coyotes in check for a while. With the first set tied 8-8, the Coyotes’ reserves provided energy and gave the home team an 11-9 lead.
Madera (19-9, 7-0) pulled away late in the first set, scoring the final eight points of the first set and winning it 25-17. Senior Lilly Ascencio scored the final point to close out the set.
“Sanger was playing well at the beginning and then I think as the game went on we frustrated them a little bit, so they had to try to do some different things,” Madera head coach Meghan Haas said. “We didn’t play our best in the beginning, but we played good enough to stay with them.”
In the second set, the Coyotes didn’t show any signs of slowing down. Madera jumped out to a 5-0 lead and kept building on the lead, winning the set 25-11.
“We didn’t change anything. Same game plan, same lineup,” Haas said. “I think we did a better job executing it.”
Throughout the season, the Coyotes had emphasized the importance of closing out games, especially against rival teams. Against Sanger, that’s exactly what the Coyotes did.
“Against a team like Sanger, you never know what you’re going to get. Whenever these teams face, there’s always a rivalry,” Haas said. “In between the second and third set, we talked about not letting our foot off the gas. We continued to push and made sure we finished in three sets.”
The Apaches once again tried to hang with Madera in the third set, but the Coyotes eventually pulled away. Sophomore Isabella Saucedo scored the final point to seal the final set 25-15 to extend Madera’s CMAC winning streak to 19 games dating to the 2016 season.
“This is the first time we had specific players, specific hitters that we were focusing on from the other team,” Haas said. “For us to be able to execute the things that we talked about in practice yesterday was huge for us.”
Haas also applauded her team for the defensive effort.
“We just controlled the game from a defensive standpoint,” she said.
Junior Mariyah Alvarez anchored the libero position, passing well in serve receive and leading the defense with 15 digs.
Lilly Ascencio had 14 digs while Cassadi Mata added 10 digs.
Trinity Davie and Bella Saucedo each recorded two blocks. Saucedo also led the team with 21 kills.
The Coyotes’ final three games will include road games against Bullard and San Joaquin Memorial, then a home game against Edison on Oct. 18.
Haas hopes to see an urgency to close out the season strong.
“We have a huge target on our back,” Haas said. “We’re 7-0, so they can take a set off of us, they can block some people. Those are going to be huge points for them, so we have to make sure we come out and not be complacent. We have to continue to get better in our gym everyday.”
The undefeated league record is especially important for the players, but Haas said the most important thing is to win the league.
“The undefeated part doesn’t bother me as much,” Haas said. “We want to keep the league championship to ourselves. That’s our goal — to win league. If that happens to be a 10-0 season, it’s just icing on the cake.”